UPDATE 7/17/2015 1:42 PM:
The FBI is joining the investigation into the death of Sandra Bland who was found unresponsive while in a Waller County Jail cell on Monday. Her arrest and death has sparked national outcry for answers after police reported that Bland committed suicide.
In a press conference Thursday, her family spoke out on her behalf, criticizing the police department's claim that her death was self-inflicted. Shante Needman, Bland's sister, said that Bland, "seemed to be in pain," according to the Associated Press. "She really felt that her arm had been fractured," Needham continued. "I told her I would work on getting her out."
An autopsy said Bland hanged herself using a plastic bag attached to a partition in her cell, according to Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis. Authorities also claim that no one went in or out of her cell until she was found unresponsive.
PREVIOUS 7/16/2015 :
Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old African-American woman, was supposed to begin a new job this week. Instead on Monday morning she was found dead in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas.
Her family is calling the incident foul play and demanding answers, while police are saying Bland's death was "self-inflicted asphyxiation."
After spending the Fourth of July holiday with family in Chicago, Bland drove to her alma mater Prairie View A&M University, an HBCU in Texas, for a job interview. The family says she landed a position in Student Outreach and her start date was Wednesday.
But before Bland could embark on her new opportunity, her life was cut short three days after an encounter with Waller County, Texas, police.
On Friday July 10, police stopped Bland in traffic for allegedly signaling a lane change
improperly. A video captured by a bystander shows police using excessive force to arrest her. She was forced out of her vehicle and slammed onto the ground according her friend, Malcolm Jackson.
Bland could be heard yelling to an officer, "You just slammed my head into the ground," in the video. Bland continued, "Do you not even care about that? I can't even hear." Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith said Bland "had been combative on the side of the road," according to ABC13.com.
On Monday around 9 a.m., authorities found Bland unresponsive and performed CPR on her. She was pronounced dead shortly after, according to a statement released by the Waller County Sheriff's Office. Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis told ABC 13, "I do not have any information that would make me think it was anything other than just a suicide."
The family is not buying into the police's storyline that Bland committed suicide. Supporters launched a Change.org petition calling for authorities outside of Waller County and the state of Texas to conduct an independent autopsy to guarantee the truth is told in Bland's death.
Bland was recently outspoken about the injustices affecting African-Americans in a series of videos on her Facebook page called "Sandy Speaks."
The Texas State Rangers are overseeing the investigation of her death. Additionally there may be other videos of Bland's arrest. However, police say there were no cameras inside her cell to show what happened immediately before her death.
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(Photo: Facebook Via Sandra Bland)